If a $100,000 tech-packed, trend-setting Tesla Model S sedan isn’t quite cool enough for you, Henrik Fisker requests a moment of your time.
The heralded automobile designer of the iconic BMW Z8 and a gaggle of Aston Martins is back in the car game with the electric Fisker EMotion, which he plans to unveil Tuesday at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Remember Fisker? Backed by a federal loan, he launched his own car company making a sleek plug-in hybrid sedan, the Karma, about the time Tesla was trying to get its Model S sedan off the ground. But production stopped in 2013 after battery woes and financial issues led to bankruptcy.
This time, Fisker’s rakish new sedan boasts upward-opening gullwing-style doors for both front- and and rear-seat passengers, a modernist interior, 400-mile battery range and a $129,000 base price. The EMotion also promises to come with sensors critical to self-driving.
“I pushed myself to move car design forward without losing what we love about the automotive shape,” Fisker tells USA TODAY while speaking by phone from the backseat of a sapphire-red EMotion as it was being set up in Las Vegas.
Among the EMotion’s specs: all-wheel drive, massive 24-inch Pirelli tires, five Quanergy sensors for autonomous driving, carbon fiber and aluminum chassis construction and a four-zone electrically adjustable tinted roof. The car is 16 feet long and 5 feet high, or roughly the same as a Tesla Model S.
Although the EMotion initially will come with traditional lithium-ion batteries, Fisker says he is further looking to distinguish his product through the development of proprietary flexible solid-state battery technology, which would improve range, increase safety and speed up recharging times.
“Consumers want choices when it comes to cars,” he says. “We believe there is plenty of room for newcomers, especially in the EV space.”
That’s true — and it could also prove a problem for Fisker.
CES, in particular, has morphed into a de facto auto show in recent years, providing a tech-centric showcase for vehicles from both traditional companies such as Mercedes-Benz and start-ups such as Faraday Future.
As strikingas its design may be, could the EMotion arrive too late to succeed?
Fisker’s Karma had the bad kind
Fisker was arguably too early with the Karma, a striking machine that found early buyers in Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. Ultimately, its assets were bought in 2014 for $150 million at a bankruptcy auction by a Chinese auto parts company, which has relaunched the plug-in hybrid as the Karma Revero.
But with huge leaps in battery technology and consumer acceptance of EVs, Fisker feels the time is right for the EMotion. He says that once the car goes into production, the company will be profitable selling fewer than 5,000 of them a year (Tesla annually builds around 100,000 of its pricey sedans and Model X SUVs and is having some production issues meeting projections for its first mainstream electric car, the $35,000 Model 3).
Fisker also says that he will be producing an autonomous shuttle, the Fisker Orbit, in partnership with China’s Hakim Unique Group, and will develop an entry-level EV, akin to the Model 3, that he hopes will sell to the ambitious tune of 300,000 units a year.